In Praise of Weddings

I went to a fabulous wedding last weekend. It was, in fact, my little brother’s wedding. It was a great, joyous celebration, with family, friends, and seriously amazing food.

I love weddings.

I love everything about them: oohing and aahing over the flowers, anticipating the bride’s dress, socializing with people I love who I perhaps haven’t seen in a long time, or meeting new folks. And then there’s the holy triad of what-makes-weddings-great: the free liquor, the dancing, and the cake. Three of my favorite things in life, all wrapped up in one convenient event.

I understand, though, that not everyone may embrace weddings as I do. There are those who might be struggling with an addiction, for whom these often alcohol-fueled events are a real trial. There are the deeply introverted, for whom the expected socializing and dancing are also a real trial. And then there are those crazy folks who for some reason don’t like cake, and I don’t know what to do with you people except to say get over it. Cake is glorious.

But there are also those who haven’t yet found their own happily ever after, and who, no matter how excited they are for the couple getting married, remain a little wistful at such events.

I empathize with these folks. I was either single or with Mr. Wrong for my entire twenties and most of my thirties, prime wedding-going decades. But for all those years, whether attending yet another cousin’s wedding with no plus one, or donning another bridesmaid dress I’d never wear again and dragging a reluctant and terrified-looking boyfriend in tow, the repeated rituals of exchanged vows and champagne toasts also made me feel somewhat hopeful. This was regardless of whether the wedding was a ten-minute quickie ceremony performed by a justice of the peace or an hour-long Catholic mass. Whether the bride was wearing a red sari, a $20,000 poufy white dress, or a little cocktail number grabbed off the rack from Forever 21. Whether there was bride at all, or two grooms instead.

Weddings of any stripe remain testaments of our communal belief in Happily Ever After (or HEA as we say in the romance biz), that essential cornerstone of all great romance. I believed in it then, and I believe in it now. Even through all those weddings where I hadn’t found mine yet, watching other couples commit their lives to each other made me think that somehow, somewhere, true love would come knocking on my door.

[Eventually it did, of course, and while a fabulous, romantic story involving a secret crush, a just-missed opportunity, and yoga, it’s also a story for another day.]

I also firmly believe you don’t need a wedding to find your bliss, and that great partnerships come in all shapes and sizes and flavors. Marriage is not for everyone. But for goodness’ sake, if you have found your own HEA, isn’t that something worth celebrating? With friends, with champagne or another festive beverage, and with cake?

I sure think so.

So cheers to my baby brother and his beautiful bride, who threw one helluva party. And cheers to weddings, and joy, and the big Happily Ever After.

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